WPI Roundtable - Week 16

This week we discuss Marty, defensive coordinator candidates, and Haley as offensive coordinator.

Since Haley's job is somewhat question, what about bringing back Marty Schottenheimer with Brian Schottenheimer as his offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting? Personally, I'd have rather seen Brian last year than Haley.

Nick Athan: Marty Schottenheimer isn't going to come back as an NFL head coach. He's looking for a front office job right now and I doubt he'll get one. He was consulting for Clark Hunt before he hired Scott Pioli, but after Carl Peterson was excluded from the Derrick Thomas ceremony I don't know if Schottenheimer would want to offer much help.

His son, however, would be a great fit for KC's offense and he'll be a solid head coach some day. That won't happen in Kansas City anytime soon, but he'd do well in an offensive coordinator/assistant head coach role. He could help Matt Cassel.

Michael Ash: That sounds like a great idea. When you think of winning championships, you think of the Schottenheimer family. Considering how many titles Marty brought the Chiefs, what could be better than extending that legacy of success to another generation by hiring his son? Heck, while we're bringing those two in, maybe we could even sign one of Marty's grandkids and get him locked up to be the coach once Brian retires.

C.E. Wendler: Sorry, but Marty Schottenheimer is 66. He's as old as Dick Vermeil was during his go-around with the Chiefs. The last thing Kansas City needs at this point is an old coach who never won anything and is at the end of his career. As poorly as he's coached this season, Todd Haley is a far more attractive option than Marty.

Besides, as I discussed just this last week in "Haley Is Bulletproof," it doesn't appear Haley is going anywhere. The Chiefs need to get comfortable with him and establish some continuity within the organization. Despite the emotional ties some Chiefs fans have to him, Marty is not a magic bullet. Neither is his son. It's time to move on.

What are the odds that Romeo Crennel is KC's defensive coordinator in 2010? Are the odds higher with Haley, or if we bring in a coach like Cowher?

Nick Athan: There's a better than 50/50 chance Crennel becomes Kansas City's defensive coordinator. The Chiefs gave him 30 days to accept their offer after Haley was hired last offseason. We've been informed that Clancy Pendergast will be out at season's end if Haley stays. If he doesn't, obviously it won't matter.

If Cowher is Kansas City's next head coach, he's going to surround himself with winners on the coaching staff. I think he'd love to have Crennel and Charlie Weis. My spies tell me Weis is strongly leaning towards joining the Chiefs as offensive coordinator despite the chaos of a potential head-coaching change in Kansas City in a few weeks.

Michael Ash: If there's actually a change made at defensive coordinator, Crennel would seem to be the favorite since the Chiefs already tried to hire him last year. Why would Bill Cowher make Crennel more likely? They have no obvious ties to each other. Haley and Crennel were both assistants with the Jets in the late 1990s, to say nothing of Crennel's connection to Pioli.

Will Romeo love Kansas City?
Tony Dejak - AP

As for the odds of Crennel getting the job, there first has to be an opening for him to fill. We've talked about this before, but unless the Chiefs were up front with Pendergast about the possibility of only sticking around for one year, I have a hard time believing Haley would fire him so quickly. Especially considering the circumstances he was stuck with.

While Pendergast has done nothing in his career to suggest he's anything special as a coordinator, we should keep in mind it wasn't his idea to run a 3-4 with no nose tackle, multiple defensive ends that have never played the position, half a linebacker core, and safeties that bring little to the table. Haley and Pioli should recognize that, and it's a commentary on their talent evaluation skills if they don't. But if they do, why would they bail on him after one year, unless the job was only temporary to begin with?

C.E. Wendler: If Haley stays, hopefully the odds are 100 percent. The Chiefs don't need to waste any time axing Pendergast. He should be the first coach out of Kansas City this offseason. There's just no point in keeping him around, the book is written on his coaching career.

The Chiefs need an experienced, accomplished coach just like Crennel to turn around their defense. They haven't had one in a long time. If Pioli and Haley mess around with Pendergast, try to convince themselves he was at a disadvantage this year with KC's lack of talent, it's only going to make them look even worse. Defensive coordinator is going to be the most crucial coaching decision of the offseason. The Chiefs can't afford to screw it up.

Do you think the Chiefs consider bringing in a coach like Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator if he's axed in Dallas? He has experience running a 3-4.

Nick Athan: He won't get axed in Dallas, because Jerry Jones knows he can manipulate Phillips, who is just grateful to be a head coach. He's a perfect fit for Dallas and with Mike Shanahan leaning towards Washington and Chicago, why would he be fired? But in that unlikely event, clearly he has been responsible for some solid defenses. I'd still prefer Crennel, however.

Michael Ash: If the Chiefs are looking for a new coordinator, Phillips should absolutely be on their list. In fact, if he's available I would prefer him over Crennel. Philips has run successful defenses in enough places for us to say with certainty that he's a legitimately good coordinator. Crennel has yet to prove that he wasn't riding Bill Belichick's coattails.

C.E. Wendler: He wouldn't be a horrible option. However, isn't everyone a little tired of retread coaches? From Greg Robinson to Gunther Cunningham and now Clancy Pendergast, it's always the same with the Chiefs. It's rare that they ever develop their own young coaches.

You know what I'm talking about. When is Kansas City going to find its own Steve Spagnuolo? Where are our Sean Paytons, our Sean McDermotts? I've always believed the best assistant coaches are the men who haven't made it yet. They're hungrier than the ones who have.

Yes, it still needs work, but with a legitimate professional offense starting to take form, (minus all the drops) why is everyone continuing to call for an offensive coordinator? I can understand the call for a quarterbacks coach, but plenty of head coaches double as coordinators.

Nick Athan: Todd Haley, if he stays on as head coach, can't handle both jobs. If he were more experienced and had a better command of his players, then it might be possible. While all the Chiefs need is three new starters on the offensive line and a deep threat at wide receiver, they still need someone who can craft better plays and focus solely on the offense.

To be fair, Haley has been handicapped by the current offensive talent, but I'm not convinced he can be head coach and coordinator. The organization shouldn't expect him to at this point. There is no doubt that he won't be calling the plays in 2010.

Will Haley give up OC duties?
Charlie Riedel - AP

Michael Ash: A lot of coaches do call their own plays, but with Haley the major issue was that he took on the duty of playcalling so close to the start of the season, which has led to a lot of talk about finding someone to relieve him of that unplanned burden. If he went through the entire offseason knowing he'd call the plays, it would be an entirely different situation. But when Haley has spoken about the issue, it's clear he wants to have someone else running the offense – at least eventually. There's no guarantee it will happen next season.

C.E. Wendler: Apart from an absurd obsession with wide receiver screens, Haley's playcalling over the last month or two has been perfectly acceptable. There's no reason to rip him over it anymore. Clearly he has adjusted. But the larger issue at stake is the dual role.

Clearly, Haley has struggled with managing the game all year. If he has less to think about on the sideline, wouldn't that only help his game management skills? Adding a coordinator seems to be the shortest route toward actually improving Haley's performance as a head coach. That's what we should be focusing on right now. Forget the offense or the playcalling. If Haley doesn't nail down the process of being a competent head coach, everything else is moot.

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